Sep 28, 2013

New Project in the Works!

Wow, it's been a while since I blogged...I've kind of had to relearn my way around blogger. Where have I been? In truth, between the demands of being a mother and promoting Illumine Her, I've started working on a new novel entitled "Scar of the Bamboo Leaf".

I'm particularly excited about this new project because, well, it's new and fresh and the characters are different from Illumine Her. It's not a sequel (although some of you have asked about that and I may have a few ideas up my sleeve about a Part 2 so we'll see).

My new novel is a coming-of-age story about a 15 year old girl in Samoa. She's a sketch artist (and there will be all sorts of traditional art thrown in there) who goes to school and lives with her aunt and uncle who own an art center. And of course there's a boy... an afakasi boy from the States who she meets and befriends along the way and who she discovers has a lot in common with her despite their different ethnicity and upbringing.

Okay....who would like a little teaser? (Eeeek! I'm putting this out there with all the trepidation and nervousness that comes with the territory of writing). Here goes. I hope you enjoy it!

Scar of the Bamboo Leaf, 2014
(unedited and subject to change)

Poised along the far wall to avoid distraction, Kiva perused the students scattered around the room, heads and shoulders bent over their wood carvings, the clink and thud of the chisel and mallet competing over each other. Uncle Mau paced his time with each student evenly, making his way around, offering guidance when needed. Kiva couldn’t make out his words from where she sat; only a few low mutterings accompanied by the shake or nod of his head.
Kiva’s eyes drifted around the room until they settled on the boy with the mysterious tattoo. Ryler. Her suspicions were correct about his work when she noticed the slab of wood with the sliced words in front of him. He hadn’t spoken a word to any of the other boys, didn’t acknowledge them, and they avoided him too, as if he had erected an invisible wall and they were aware of it. 
Her uncle had no problem stepping through it though. He was with him now, speaking in low tones and gesturing to his work. What was he saying? Kiva strained to hear but nothing came to her over the mass of carving sounds. A muscle in Ryler’s jaw jumped as he sat, head bent, listening to him. Uncle Mau remained with him for some time, talking and listening, acknowledging the need to spend more time. Finally, a tap on his shoulder and a single nod before he moved away.
Kiva noticed when Ryler picked up a carving knife, paused in concentration, tentative and contemplative, before he met it with wood, the muscles in his broad back contorting and flexing from the grip and release of the tool. What had he decided to carve? Kiva wanted to inch her way forward to find out but kept herself firmly planted. Thirty minutes passed and still she sat riveted to her spot.
 A couple sharp drops on the roof was the only warning to the torrential downpour that followed. 
 “Kiva!” Hana’s voice shouted from across the yard and made her jump. “It’s raining! Get the laundry!”
Kiva scrambled off the floor, the noise drawing attention, and raced to the line. 
The knifelike sting of raindrops hit her on the back and soaked through her shirt. Ignoring the pricks, she rushed to unpeg each piece of clothing, throwing it in the bucket, and returning for more. The rain came down harder and faster, blurring her eyesight, the sound a thunderclap and roaring in her ears. Tea towels, Uncle Mau’s shirt, Aunt Lola’s lavalava, Hana’s school skirt. Breathless, her quick movements had long ago uncoiled her hair; the pencil slipped out and lost somewhere.  She was nearing the end of the line, grappling with a sheet, when she glanced up and noticed the boys running from the center to the van, their lesson over. 
Ryler appeared last through the door, his brown eyes trained on her, and descended the stairs with heavy, deliberate steps. Kiva stared wide-eyed as he stepped into the rain and came towards her with unhurried, even strides. She watched as his grey shirt was pelted with raindrops, soaking through until the wet dots spread and connected.
When he was a foot away, he lifted his hand.
“You dropped this,” he said, his deep voice an octave lower than the downpour.
Kiva glanced down at his hand and saw the pencil she used to pin up her hair. It must have dropped in the art center in her haste to take down the laundry. Reaching for it she noticed the deep scars on the inside of his left wrist and paused. From this close they looked even worse.
“It’s not what you think,” he answered, interpreting her thoughts.
Kiva snapped her eyes to his face. His eyes were lowered, thick lashes dripping from the rain, a line formed between his eyebrows. She saw a scar near his right eye, something she hadn’t noticed before.
The sound of the van’s horn blared from the drive way.
“Ryler! Hurry up, we’re going!” A superior gestured for him impatiently in the rain.
“You better go,” Kiva said. “Thanks for returning this,” she took the pencil from his hand and curled it in her fingers.
Ryler nodded once and jogged over to the waiting van, his shirt now drenched through and stuck to his broad shoulders.
Kiva let out a deep breath and gathered her long hair in a bun, wrapped it once, twice, before stabbing the pencil through.

~  Sieni A.M.

For visual inspiration for 'Scar of the Bamboo Leaf' click here

May 29, 2013


***Giveaway Time!***

I'm dubbing this "Alana's Favorite Things" which includes everything you see in the picture plus more:

* The green sarong/lavalava you see in the background (perfect for summer!)
* Handmade ili (Samoan fan)
* Rainkissed Leaves body lotion from Bath & Body Works (smells divine...remember the scene she used this on her face, arms, underarms, hair? One of my fav scenes!)
* Covergirl's LashBlast mascara
* Some beautiful authentic jewelry from a country she visits in the book (guess where? clue: her dream destination)
* The Kindle version of The Bone Bearer (Telesa series #3) delivered to you on the day it launches
* AND a signed paperback of Illumine Her (first ever!)

To enter: Simply write a review of Illumine Her on Amazon; the draw will take place on 1 July. If you've already done so, your name's in. Share, share, share and good luck!

Mar 31, 2013

Blog Tour

Blog Tour starts today!

There is a fantastic line up of book bloggers with reviews, promos, and giveaways to watch out for! Check it out:

31 March: The Indie Bookshelf
1 April: I Will Fork You
2 April: Bookworm Lisa
3 April: Book Reader Chronicles
4 April: Clean Romance Reviews
5 April: I Read Indie
6 April: Candy Coated Book Blog, Smardy Pants Book Blog
7 April: Beckoned by Books
8 April: YA Book Addict

Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who posted a review on Amazon!

The winner of Sarah Dosher's debut novel Haven from the Storm is:

* Habitual Reader *

Thank you! 

Mar 20, 2013

Giveaway Time!

A dear author friend of mine, Sarah Dosher, is launching her debut novel on 30 March. She has been instrumental to me as a writer and her book is on my top to read list.

So... on the day of her launch I will be GIFTING this book to a lucky Illumine Her reader out there. All you have to do to is write a review about Illumine Her on Amazon between now and 30 March, and your name goes in the drawer for this hot off the press read (if you've already written one, you're in).

Happy reading! and in the meantime check out her stunning book cover and intriguing blurb! 

“If you’re going to make me cry, at least be there to wipe away the tears…”

Most were asleep in their beds the night Lily Grace’s entire world was ripped apart, leaving only darkness and torment in its place. The only remaining person she depended on abandoned her without a second thought…or so that’s what Lily has believed for the past four years.

Dean Haven has returned for one reason—to win Lily’s love again. He’s already broken her heart because of the demons that haunt him. Can his desire for Lily keep him from succumbing to those demons again?

Dean has no idea what awaits him when he tries to fight his way back into Lily’s life. Everything he remembers has changed, including Lily.

Is love enough when you’re forced to weather the storms life has blown your way?

Due to content and subject matter, suggested for readers 16 years of age and older.

Mar 19, 2013

What you should read next

You've heard the John Green quote... "Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book." 

Beautiful, right? Well, this happened to me. Smacked-me-in-my-chest and made-my-spirit-soar happened to me. With this book. This. right. here.

Running Barefoot by Amy Harmon.

Here's the blurb: When Josie Jensen, an awkward 13-year-old musical prodigy, crashes headlong into new kid Samuel Yazzie, an 18-year-old Navajo boy full of anger and confusion, an unlikely friendship blooms. Josie teaches Samuel about words, music, and friendship, and along the way finds a kindred spirit. Upon graduation, Samuel abandons the sleepy, small town in search of a future and a life, leaving his young mentor behind. Many years go by, and Samuel returns to find his old friend in need of the very things she offered him years before. Their roles reversed, Samuel teaches Josie about life, love, and letting go.

Deeply romantic and poignant, 'Running Barefoot' is the story of a small town girl and a Native American boy, the ties that bind us to our homes and families, and the love that gives us wings.


This is currently the cover on Amazon: 

Here's my five star review from Amazon: 


Oh my goodness.. you know when you've just finished reading an incredible book and your heart has just swelled and filled with wonderment at the words you've just breathed in? That is how I feel about finishing this novel. I am absolutely heartbroken that it is over. Hands down one of my all time favorite reads of all time!!!!!

It was so unexpected, and I never realized how much I would come to care for these two characters. Josie and Samuel... their relationship was so pure, so beautiful, moving, life altering. My heart broke for their struggles, their hardships, everything they had to endure, but it was filled up with love and hope again by the lessons learned, the classical music, the Navajo stories, the rich language and culture. After hearing her speak and gaining insight into her mind, I wanted to become Josie's best friend! Why didn't anyone else take notice of this precious, beautiful human being in school?? She became the epitome of a strong heroine, and NOT ONCE was she lowered in my eyes. Her character was strong but soft, feminine but tom boyish, smart but innocent. She was a dichotomy within her own self and she was totally, utterly loveable because of it.

Well done Amy Harmon. You just won a lifelong fan in me. I'm now going to go read your other novels. And when my tender heart has healed from this book, I will revisit it again and again. In the meantime, Debussy's "The Girl with Flaxen Hair" has become my new fav song and the scene in which this song inspired, one of my all time favorites from the book.

You have inspired me as a writer.


And she has. The author has inspired me to pick up my virtual pen and write again. Or at least wrack my brain around for some ideas to write before I jot things down. Because I WANT TO WRITE LIKE THIS. This epic, beautiful and enchanting story is why I love to read, and what inspires me to push myself forward to write.  Thank you Amy Harmon for the beautiful words, for an exquisite story, for becoming a writer! 

After devouring this book under 24 hours, I am on a book high! And a book hangover (sob!). Where can I find more books like this? Everything about it sung to me. The writing was flawless, the story line moving, the romance epic, the stories spiritual. It was captivating and intriguing and uplifting. It had everything I love to read about--the span of a long period of time (in this case 10 years), wide open spaces, nature, culture, spirit, humor, classical music (did I mention that I now want to enroll my daughters in piano lessons? if it doesn't work out then at least I can have Debussy on repeat), pure love, two beautiful souls. Everything! Arghh. Just read it, ok? Make the world a better place and just read this! lol

To purchase, click here

DO IT NOW! :) You will love it, trust me.  

Feb 16, 2013

I'm pregnant and there aint no epidural

I feel like I’m about to give birth to a third child. But this baby won't be loved by everyone.

Eight months ago, the idea to write a book came to me while I was in Samoa for the summer. I saw the pictures float in my mind like a movie, and I had to sit and type it all down. It became a hobby and perhaps an obsession to get this story out of my system, and what an incredibly enjoyable and challenging experience it has been so far. When the kids were tucked into bed, I went to work. My imagination came to life and I entered a whole different world.

For someone who loved to read but hadn’t written anything since university, it wasn’t always easy.

Imagine sitting down at the computer and opening Word. You have a blank page and a blinking cursor. Your fingers hover over the keyboard while your mind spins and works overtime—sifting through your vocabulary to form a perfect sentence. Two. Three. A whole paragraph. You have a story to tell and need to build a world in which that story can bloom. You form a vision of your main character in your mind. What will her name be? What does she look like? Does she have scars, piercings, a tattoo? What are her values? What are her fears? What are her struggles? Secondary characters. Who are they? How does she relate to them? What important role do they play in her life? You do some research. You have a thesaurus. You ask questions to the experts. 

Little by little, chapters were formed and I would send them to my family, and they would lovingly support me. I had no intent to share this with the world. I had one author friend. ONE. She encouraged me to publish this Pacific story. Let me tell you, the idea Freaked.Me.Out. and I doubted myself. Big time. Because not only am I going to expose my soul to the world, but once it’s out there, it will no longer be mine. Readers will take it and connect with it. Or not. Praise it or rip it to shreds.

So I had a decision to make, and I promptly decided to go ahead anyway. To publish it. To build a platform. Get exposure. 

In the world of indie writing, it can be incredibly lonely. Until you find other writers doing the exact same thing. They are mothers. They have families. They work in the day and write in the night. They have the same fears and doubts as me. I have found that once you connect with them, a whole network opens up to you. Resources. Experts. Support. An ear to vent out to. A cyberspace shoulder to cry on. I have received some of the best advice ever--“Suck it up, sister” and “Jump in with both feet” to name a few LOL. I found an incredible editor and an amazing cover designer as a result. 

In a little over a month from now, I will be uploading this story to Amazon, pushing “publish” and voila! I’ll be an author. Like a mama, I will be sending my baby out into the world and hope it’s received well and that people won’t throw TOO many cyberspace stones at it. But it’s also when I’ll get the opportunity to practise something in return: DETACHMENT.

Jan 30, 2013

Teaser time!

* Subject to change

A plate of sashimi was brought over by the waiter and placed on the table. Alana picked up a toothpick and poked a strip of sliced tuna, dipped it in the wasabi sauce, and popped it in her mouth. Spiciness shot up her nose and tears pricked her eyes. “Argh!” she grabbed her nose breathing in deeply and reached for her drink, gulping hard. “Are you alright?” Chase asked. “I always do that,” she answered in a strangled voice. “The first bite is always a killer, but then it gets good,” she coughed. He suppressed a smile then dipped his strip of fish and ate it. She watched him closely for a similar reaction. Nothing.

Illumine Her, coming March 2013!

Jan 26, 2013

Fan girl alert! and interview with author Lani Wendt Young

So my friends and family know that I've been shouting a lot about a book series ever since I learned that it had Samoan mythology, spirit women (the spooky kind where we were hushed from speaking about growing up but did so anyway at slumber parties), epic romance, a fierce and powerful heroine, and some pretty kick butt villains. I was thinking, yes! finally! a story from the Pacific by a Pacific Island woman! (Because let's be honest, the last book I read by a Pacific woman was Sia Figiel's one back in high school.)

If that combination doesn't get your heart racing, then look at these covers: 

Book 1: Telesa: The Covenant Keeper

Book 2: When Water Burns

Ooh lah lah! Let me just say that these books are Young (Mature) Adult so despite these rather, um, fiery covers there are no racy scenes beyond what you would see in a PG-13 film.

So I got my sister to read them. My brother. Some girlfriends. And then I facebooked about it, emailed about it, wrote reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I started following the author's blog, her facebook, and whatever other fan sites there were dedicated to this. I. am. a. huge. fan. My sister even says I have a girl crush on the author, which I probably do. 

And then I went to Samoa for the summer and learned that she would be there promoting her second book. Perfect timing right! So I rocked up to her book signing with my youngest in tow and there sitting behind that table surrounded by posters of Daniel's abs was author LANI WENDT YOUNG and the rugby star who is the face (or I should say abs) of Daniel in the series. Talk about a celebrity mash up!

To say I was nervous would be an understatement, and it wasn't because of the looming 6 foot 4 guy next to her. No. (Although he was really nice too, we talked about Israel, took pics, and when my daughter's sandal fell in the dirt he picked it up and gently placed it back on her foot). It was because I was finally meeting someone who I admire and felt an instant connection with just from reading her blog entries oceans and continents away. Her humor is synonymous with my own, and I just felt like we clicked.

Lani is a mother of five children under the age of 17. FIVE, people! That alone is a full time job in itself. But that doesn't stop her from doing what she loves. She's an English teacher turned writer. She bakes the really difficult stuff. She blogs. And when I say blog I mean she writes short stories about her writing experiences and family life. She runs marathons. And she's LOL hilarious. Welcome Lani!

1. First of all, how did you dream up the whole concept of these books?

I’ve always been fascinated by stories of ‘teine Sa’, or spirit women in Samoa. I grew up listening to the warnings of what we should and shouldn’t do in case we upset any of them, stories from those who had experienced their punishments/curses and more. As a teenager, I asked a lot of questions about the stories and was frustrated because people either didn’t have any answers OR they didn’t want to talk about ‘teine Sa’. A bit like He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named… When I started writing the first Telesa novel, it was with those early stories in my head. I took all my unanswered questions and let my overactive imagination make up all the ‘answers’! I had just finished reading the Twilight series and knew I wanted to write a book that would have at its paranormal fantasy center – a love story.  A love story that captured and recreated the fragile, breathless, exhilarating (and horribly depressing) experience of first love. For me, the power of the Twilight books is not the sparkly vampires and half-naked wolf boys – it’s the love story, as two people from very different backgrounds overcome overwhelming odds to forge a lasting relationship. I hope I am writing that kind of love story in the Telesa series.

2. If one were to teach Telesa: The Covenant Keeper to a high school English class, what themes would be taught? 
Identity and belonging are very strong themes throughout the books. Any story with young adults/teenagers in it, is going to deal with these issues in some form or another. Having characters of mixed ethnicity and cultural backgrounds makes that adolescent search for self even more tangled. Leila comes to Samoa in search of family and a place to belong and I think her journey mirrors what many multi-ethnic people go through at some point in their lives. Leila’s struggles with identity, sexuality and society’s expectations are resonating with teens and ex-teens all over the world. Feminism is another topic impossible to miss when doing a critique of Telesa. All the main characters are powerful female authority figures (with the exception of Daniel) and the book deals with issues of sisterhood, the mother-child relationship, sex, femininity and more. If I were to get back in the classroom in Samoa, I would also have my students look at themes of racism, colonialism, environmentalism, Christianity vs traditional spirituality.

3. What is Leila & Daniel's theme song? 

Too many to suit all the different twists and turns in their journey!

Coldplay – ‘Fix You’ and ‘Paradise’.  UB40 – Cant Help Falling in Love

The faces of Leila & Daniel in the series:

 (L-R Model Faith Wulf, rugby player Ezra Taylor. Photo: Jordan Kwan)

     4. What alternative names did you have for Leila & Daniel? How did you settle for these two? (And does it have something to do with Lani & Darren? just a lil observation ;) 

      LOL I didn’t even get the connection with Lani and Darren until I read this! Maybe it’s a deeeeeeeply subconscious thang! #Not.
Seriously though, I wanted Leila’s name to be one that had a Samoan translation, and one that connected with the storyline. Her original name then was supposed to be ‘Pele’ – which can be ‘Bella’ in English. That’s my daughter’s name and she is named after her great-grandmother. Both women are strong, fiercely feisty and beautiful – even though one is only five and the other is in her eighties. BUT, for Twilight obvious reasons, I couldn’t name my MC ‘Bella’, so I settled for Leila Pele Folger. Leila because I’ve always thought it was a beautiful name. Folger is the name of a family we knew when we were living in Washington D.C. Daniel is a Biblical name and one that denotes honor, faith, courage and strength. I knew a Tongan boy called Daniel a long time ago and I’ve never forgotten what he explained to me about how a boy in Tonga would go about respectfully ‘courting’ a girl he liked. ‘Tahi’ means ocean in Tongan which of course is perfect for Daniel in the story. Some of my characters are named after real people… I taught a student called Sarona and she was a stunning young woman with long black hair (she was very sweet and shy though, not mean and nasty at all like MY Sarona!)  

5.  The Bone Bearer, the third and final book in the Telesa trilogy, is set for release sometime in 2013. Can you give us a little teaser to hold us over? What is written on say, line 4 on page 44? 

There are some new characters introduced in the third book that I’m very excited about. One of them is a young woman from Fiji. Many of our Samoan legends have very close ties with our cousins in Fiji and I am drawing on these in the next book.

People say they wish they could see the future. People say what a wonderful gift that would be. Sometimes, people are fools… As long as I can remember, my mother has glimpsed the future. It is a heavy burden she carries and one I pray I will never be cursed with. Because if you can see the future, then you can never truly live in the present. The gift of prophecy, seer and revelator is a curse. For of what use is seeing the future without the power to change it? My mother could not avert hurricanes. Heal scarred heart tissue. Stop my father from falling in love with another woman. Make my teacher be a nice person who didn’t have a fondness for using a cane on her students.  No, my mother could not change the future. But that didn’t mean she gave up trying. And so hers was a life spent always running, trying to change tomorrow. And having to decide what to let be. And what to try and influence.  My mother can glimpse the future. She can’t change it.
But I can. 

Oooh! Very exciting stuff! 

6. Tell us a little about yourself. When you're not writing, reading, baking, running after your kids, what do you do to relax? 

I love going to the movies and it drives me nuts that they don’t make more movies that I like! Chick-flicks, romantic comedies are my ideal relaxation. And clever, witty action movies like The Avengers. I would give up donuts forever to have the scriptwriter and the producer of The Avengers  make a Telesa movie…*dreamy sigh*.  After watching a great movie, I always come home super-hyped to write stuff. 

7. What top 3 secrets would you give an aspiring writer who's working on a book for the first time? 

 1. Don’t get distracted by OTHER book ideas. Start a book, set yourself a deadline and stick with it. Too often when the writing gets boring and too much like hard work – we jump and start a different book…then when that gets boring we jump again…and nothing ever gets finished. Don’t kid yourself. Writing a book is WORK. Its not fun all the time. I allow myself to write TWO books at once. Both have different deadlines. Both are very different from each other. I go back and forth working on each one throughout my writing day so I don’t get too sick of one.

2. Read. Everything and anything. How can you recognize what makes a good story (or a crap one) if you don’t read lots of good (and lots of crap) books?

3. Write every book for YOU. If you’re not excited about reading your own book, then how in heck can you expect anybody else to be? 

8. How has your writing evolved since the first books? 

*I’m not so scared anymore. Of what people will think. Of my writing. Of me. Of the ‘me’ they think I am by reading my writing. I’m more inclined now to write whatever the hell I want and say it the way I want to without instinctive self-censorship.

*I write shorter. I need fewer words to say the same amount of stuff. 
* I have more faith in my readers. I used to think that I needed to describe EVERYTHING and babysit readers, holding their hand to guide them through the story. Now, I give them waaaay more credit…and let the story flow and just hope everybody keeps up.

And there you have it. Some very sound advice and encouragement right there! THANK YOU LANI! 

If you haven't had the chance, check out Daniel's novella: I am Daniel Tahi